Arrival at Urumqi in Xinjiang, an area of the unparalleled scenery and cultural diversity, you will be greeted by your tour guide and transferred to hotel. Free at leisure for the rest of the day.
Take a driving for 120km northeast to visit the holy Heavenly Lake (Tianchi). The beautiful lake is flanked by rugged pines and cypresses, with clear melting waters reflecting the surrounding of snow capped mount Bogeda. After the tour you will be transferred back to downtown, you can then take a short visit to Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar, which is believed to be the largest outdoor market in town.
Heavenly Lake is located half way up Bogda Peak in Fukang County, 110km east of Urumqi City. As a natural alpine lake, it has an elevation of 1,980 meters. In the shape of a half moon, the lake is 3,400 meters long, about 1,500 meters wide, and 105 meters at the deepest point. With limpid water, the lake shines like a sapphire under the sun and is surrounded by green mountains. At the southeast end of the lake is the magnificent Bogda Peak, meaning ‘Sacred Mountain’ in the Mongolian language.
Erdaoqiao is situated at the Erdaoqiao Block of South Jiefang Road in Urumqi, where you’ll find a bustling market filled with fruit, clothing, crafts, knives, carpets and many antique items. The market has special space for grand ethnic songs and dances performances, and the folk street is furnished with a miniature landscape of Xinjiang’s attractions. On Sunday, there are more stalls and more goods than any other days.
Today, you will take hours driving to Turpan, on the way, you will pass Urumqi Wind Power Mill, which was built for producing electrical power in the area. After cross the valley of Tianshan we will arrive in the lowest depression of China-Turpan City. Upon arrival, visit the mysterious death city, the Ruins of Jiaohe Ancient City, which reveals traces of a prosperous ancient trading center and military stronghold 1,600 years ago. And then visit Emin Minaret (Sugong Pagoda) – the biggest ancient pagoda existing in Xinjiang and the only Islamic ancient pagoda in the country and ancient Karez Well, the underground water supply and irrigation system.
Jiaohe meaning in Chinese where two rivers meet was once the most forward outpost in the West for ages. Historical records and excavation reveal evidence of a prosperous ancient trading center and military stronghold from 1,600 years ago. Owing to the arid climate and remote location, Jiaohe remains relatively intact, leaving us a rare example of an earthen castle, the largest, oldest and best-preserved earthen city in the world.
Emin Minaret is the largest extant ancient Islamic tower in Xinjiang. Standing 2 km (1.24 miles) east of Turpan, Emin Minaret was built in 1777 in honor of a heroic Turpan general named Emin Khoja.
Karez Well is reputed as one of the three major construction projects in ancient China, together with the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. The history of this unique underground irrigation system can be traced back over more than 2,000 years.
Have another day excursion in Turpan that including the visit to Gaochang Ancient City, which was an important garrison town on the Silk Road, Grape Valley, Flaming Mountain and Bezeklik Caves. After the tour, be transferred back to Urumqi for your flight to Kashgar.
Flaming Mountain Gaochang Ancient City located at the east of Turpan, the city-state that ruled the area from the 9th century to the 13th. The city was actually founded a few hundred years earlier than that, and gradually became known as a trading post on the Silk Road.
The Grape Valley is located in Flaming Mountain. From ancient times, this place has been famous for the cultivation of the sweetest, tastiest grapes. Be enticed by the sight of bunches of green pearl-like grapes hanging from the vines in splendid profusion. It’s a great relief to recline in the shade of the green leaves and delight in the fresh juicy fruit, appreciating the coolness after the heat outside.
The Flaming Mountains are so named because in the evenings the red clay mountains reflect the heat and glow of the desert and seem to burn. Situated on the northern edge of the Turpan Basin, and stretching over 100 km long and 10 km wide, this is an intensely hot part of the desert without a single blade of grass to be seen for miles.
Bezeklik Caves is located in a gorgeous valley of the Flaming Mountains. More than 100 caves were hewn out of this cliff face between the 6th and 9th centuries by Buddhist monks who farmed the valley below. They were abandoned at about the same time as Gaochang Ancient City and Jiaohe Ancient City after the Muslim take over of the region in the late 14th century.
In the morning, take a long drive (8hours) to Korla, an oasis town on Peacock River, at the northern edge on the Taklamakan Desert. During the way, you will have chance to visit the Iron GatePass. Upon arrival take a boat trip on Bosten Lake which is the largest fresh water lake in China.
Iron Gate Pass Following the gorge of the Peacock River, the Iron Gate Pass connects the Yanqi Basin and Tarim Basin in central Xinjiang. The main settlements linked by the pass are the town of Yanqi to the north and the city of Korla in the south. It was of strategically historical significance because it formed a vulnerable bottle-neck on the Silk Road. A military checkpoint was established at the pass during the Tang Dynasty.
Bosten Lake is a freshwater lake located 57 km northeast of Korla. Covering an area of about 1,000 square kilometers (together with adjacent small lakes), it is the largest lake in Xinjiang and one of the largest inland freshwater lakes in China. Westerners sometimes refer to it as the “Oriental Hawaii of Xinjiang” because of its unique lush scenery surrounded by the harsh Gobi Desert.
Today, get up early and continue your long driving journey to Minfeng (780km, about 7hours). On the way, you will cross the 2nd largest shifting desert in the world – Taklamakan Desert, which means “once inside never out”. Enjoy the magnificent vista of countless sand dunes at the height of mountains on the way.
Take another driving to Hotan (320km), home to some very well known archaeological sites in China. In the late 18th century many explorers from England, Germany, France, Russia, Japan, came to Hotan where some of them almost lost their lives in the desert. On the way we will pass Keriya, an oasis town on the old Southern Silk Road.
Famous for its silk and jade, the oasis town of Hotan or Khotan is the capital of Hotan Prefecture. With a population of 114,000 (2006), Hotan lies in the Tarim Basin, north of the Kunlun Mountains. Hotan is strategically located at the junction of the southern branch of the famous Silk Road. It provided a convenient meeting place where not only goods, but technologies, philosophies, and religions were transmitted from one culture to another.
In the morning, you will take a visit to the Ruins of Mallikurwatur which is believed to be the ancient city of Yutian Kingdom. After the tour, be transferred back to the city and visit local family workshop of paper making.
Also known as Mallikurwatur Ruins, Mallika Awat is located 25 km southwest of Hotan. It is believed to be the ancient city of Yutian Kingdom. Potsherds, ancient coins and other items have been excavated here since 1977.
In the moring take a driving to Kashgar (520km), you will pass some oasis towns like Yarkent, which was the capital of the ancient Uyghur Karahanid Kingdom of 15 th century. Visit a notable knife factory in Yengisar which is famous for knives making. Late in afternoon we will arrive at Kashgar, a main hub of the ancient Silk Road of China.
Hemmed in by deserts and the Pamirs, Kashgar is a fabled city embracing a rich mixed culture with Mosques and veiled women contributing to its Middle East atmosphere.
Today, take a visit to Zhiren Street, an old street with an amazing hand-made stuff from strictly utilitarian cookware to exotic musical instruments. Then continue your trip to Id Kah Mosque, which is one of the largest and busiest in China. Then, you can take a short visit to Apak Hoja Tomb. If it is Sunday, the local Bazaar will be a good place for you to have a visit. This ancient market attracts locals and merchants from all over Xinjiang and nearby countries such as Pakistan and Kirghizstan.
When tour is over, you will be transferred back to your hotel, free on your own at the rest of the day.
Kashgar Urumqi, Departure
Free at leisure then you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Urumqi. Then help yourselves change the connecting flight to next destination.
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